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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 29 March 2010
This is a rare example of a specialist topic given a mass appeal by the engaging voice accent and manner of Professor Brian Cox who manages to explain the Solar system as a natural phenomenon with numerous simple examples

It has some stunning computer generated graphics combined with real images and pictures

Traveling to many location over the planet including Ethiopia , India and Hawaii the producers found many places that resemble locations in other planets of the solar system .

The soundtrack is a mixture of dreamy and indie music that contributes to the experience of space travel .

The series contains five episodes, each of which focuses on an aspect of the Solar System and features a 'wonder'.

1-Empire of the sun

A great introduction to the series that illustrates how the formation and behavior of the Sun affects each planet in the Solar System .The graphics of the formation of the sun are truly spectacular.

2-Order Out of Chaos
The second episode explores the Rings of Saturn and explains their differences and the effect of gravity on their formation. The pictures from Cassini add a wonderful touch to the stunning graphics.

3-The Thin Blue Line
The third episode looks at the atmosphere of Earth and that of Titan moon in Saturn. A very relevant program that touches on how fragile is our existence and how much we own to our atmosphere.

4-Dead or Alive
The fourth episode looks at the size of planets, volcanoes, and the moon Io ,and how size and position in the solar system determines if live can develop in a planet. The images form the Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia are a great example of the conditions in other places of the solar system.

The program covers life surviving in extreme environments in our planet, and how the search for life on other planets follows the search for water. This last episode is the most interesting of them all as it asks a couple of very interesting questions ,Are we alone in the Universe ? What if we are ? What if we aren't ?

A great achievement for the BBC
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This is a superb series which graphically illustrates some of the high points of local cosmology. Each hour-long episode is visually striking and easily accessible for all ages. Presenter Prof Brian Cox never patronises the audience and has a special knack for explaining quite complex theories with real-life examples. There are five episodes in total, each one highlighting a different theme to explain some of the compelling forces at work in our solar system.
There isn't a dull moment in the whole series, and it avoids much of the over-blown drama and pointless repetition which can plague current popular science programmes. Mind you, at times it feels a little like you've tuned into an episode of Top Gear by mistake (!), with 4x4s in the Namib desert, jet fighters on the edge of space, skidoos across snow-scapes, and such. That's because Prof Cox visits a whole range of striking landscapes on Earth, to demonstrate that the same cosmic forces which have a profound effect across the universe are at work here.

`Wonders of the Solar System' features plenty of excellent visual stimulation and makes great use of CGI as well as plenty of original images from space probes (the sun rise from Mars is magnificent, and the rocks from the moon Titan are spookily familiar). The animations usefully demonstrate some of the trickier aspects of planetary geometry - for instance, I never realised quite how far over the earth tips on its axis which creates the seasons, and the graphic illustrated this perfectly.
Similarly, understanding how the magnetosphere protects the earth from the solar wind isn't exactly easy to picture from a wordy description, but the CGI showed it perfectly. The whole series has helped to expand my understanding of how the solar system was formed and is still changing, and there are plenty of little nuggets of new info in each episode - often fresh from whichever new probe has sent back data in recent years.

The series starts by studying the sun, the star at the heart of our solar system. Prof Cox immediately involves the viewer with a simple experiment to show how you can calculate the energy that the sun puts out using an umbrella and a can of water, and this is typical of how cosmic themes are grounded in earthy practicality throughout the series. This episode explains the cosmic coincidence which means we on earth can enjoy total solar eclipses, thanks to the size of the moon and its distance from us.
Prof Cox uses tornados to explain how the planets originally formed from clouds of dust and relates that to the rings of Saturn - again, there's some gorgeous imagery in this segment including genuine footage from the recent mission to Saturn's many moons. The pictures of the ice volcanoes erupting are amazing.
Another episode studies the atmosphere of planets and explains why Mercury doesn't have one; why Venus' is so thick, and why Earth's atmosphere is so important. (A great excuse for a trip in an English Electric Lightning jet fighter!). It also reveals the other body in our solar system which has a similar atmosphere to ours, and which also appears to have lakes and rivers on it. All through, the cosmological details is compared to similar settings on our world, making it easy to understand and visually exciting.
Size really matters when it comes to planets and another programme looks at planetary cores and how they differ, which is a great excuse to stand on the tallest mountain on earth and look at live volcanoes! One of the moons of Jupiter, which should be cold and dead, is actually home to extraordinary lakes of lava and giant volcanic eruptions. We also enjoy a great explanation about the chances of finding life on other planets (including a look at some of the truly alien life-forms here on earth). Prof Cox also reminds us that life evolves over geological time and that when change happens fast we tend to go extinct. But he doesn't labour the point.

All through this series you are swept along by Prof Cox's enthusiasm for the subject and his delight in each new discovery. If I have to criticise it for anything then it's for indulging so much in the terribly fashionable trend for science-by-globetrotting, but Prof Cox comes over as such a likeable guy that it's easy to forgive him.
The science is solid; the explanations are easily understood yet of enough depth to interest adults with a decent understanding of popular science. So this series should suit all ages of people with an interest in other planets, and it's very easy to recommend. I finally understand why most planets spin, and it's taken 42 years for that to sink in! Plus, the photos from the Mars rovers, showing their own tracks in the dust of another world, make me choke up every time I see them.
The Blu-Ray version will make the most of the graphics, too.
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on 31 March 2010
I have watched this series and have found it to be one of the best programmes of recent years. Its worth a years license fee on its own. Being 57 and remembering how much I enjoyed my physics lessons and still have regrets that I didn't go on and get my degree I hope this is going to be the start of a new direction for the beeb. Over the years I have watched Horizon, it used to be good, but now its boring and dumbed down for the masses. I wish I could obtain copies of old Horizons (hint Beeb!!!!) I remember the fantastic TV programme called the Violent Universe and thought that I would never see anything that would compete but this does in every respect. The universe is a truly incredible place and its beyond me how people can't look up at the night sky and just wonder what amazing things there must be out there and realise how fragile we are on this tiny lump of rock with a veneer of atmosphere.
The best piece is early on when Brian Cox explains how simple it is to calculate how much energy the sun is giving off using a bucket, some water, a thermometer, an umbrella and a knowledge of the distance we are from the sun. This is the marvel of physics. Watch it and get the kids to watch it too!
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on 11 April 2010
I am just over half way through this excellent BBC production and felt urged to review it. The passion of Brian Cox, the physicist who takes you on an amazingy discovery of the solar system, is prevalent in each episode. You really get a clear feel for his enthusiasm of his specialism. The explanations of the dynamics of our fragile and complicated environment are well conceived and illustrated by giving on-earth examples. For instance, the mechanics of the rings of Saturn are explained by a trip to the dunes of a desert and how the grains of sand are comparable to the rings. Interesting fact: one of the rings is as little as 3 metres in depth. When you consider the size of Saturn, I find that astonishing. Fact 2: The geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladusj ejects so much ice out of it's poles that it is resposible for the creation of one of the plannet's outer rings in it's entirity! Explanations at a perfect level for the average Joe.
CG imagery mixed with actual photography help make this very tangible. The music and stunning cinematography lend to the production value tremendously.
A very well produced BBC project, with heart and insight behind it. Licence payers money being put to good use at last.
Roll on Wonders of the Universe :-)
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Brian Cox presents this TV documentary about our solar system, but as the title suggests - this isn't a boring run down of how our neighbouring planets behave. It's a look at the more magical aspects, it explores the "what if?" element of our local cosmos and presents it in a package which made me sit wide-eyed in awe.

It's clear that Brian Cox is more than just a physicist, he has a passion for his favourite subject which is nothing short of infectious. As he explains the beauty of Saturn's rings or the secrets of Europa, he does it with the excitement of a proud child desperate to share the knowledge and you can't help but feel the same. He makes things sound so simple and has a knack for using whatever is around him to create analogies for what he is discussing.

There are only five episodes in this series, but each covers a specific theme and feels epic in its scope. By talking about extraterrestrial phenomena and then relating it to how beautifully complex and beautiful our own planet is, the intangible becomes understandable and you appreciate what the Prof is explaining to us.

Computer generated imagery helps to bring it all to life and the depictions of celestial bodies look great. Volcanic eruptions on Io, the many rings of Saturn, and solar flares are just some of the amazing things which appear on screen to add an extra dimension to the series. These visual aides help to cement your understanding of what is being covered.

In a nutshell: Professor Brian Cox is almost poetic in his enthusiastic fronting of this fantastic series. Wonders of the Solar System doesn't gloss over the basic facts, it asks big questions and then offers answers. It shows you the latest thinking and details the most modern of theories and yet manages to do it all in a intelligible and accessible way.
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on 2 September 2010
There was a glowing ember inside of me, left over from the days when my father would take me in the back garden on cold winter nights and point out constellations like "The Plough" and "Orion". Professor Cox has blown on that ember and started a fire in me that threatens to become an obsession.
So many reviewers have praised this series so highly that I find it difficult to add anymore without covering the same ground. I will say this though, Professor Cox explains his joy and fascination for the awesome beauty of our Solar System in an easy to understand way that strikes just the right balance for everyone to enjoy.
I wish some of my teachers had been more like him!
Simply stunning!
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on 4 June 2010
After watching Dr. Iain Stewart's 'Earth: The Power Of The Planet' and reading the great book to go with it, I didn't think a Geological/Astronomical BBC series could get much better or more interesting. I was wrong. The Wonders Of The Solar System is a magnificent series which had me facinated from the get go, to the very last sentence.

When the series was on TV I only caught the first episode 'Empire Of The Sun' but this was enough to know I wanted more. The day the Blu-ray came through the door I sat down to watch the first episode and ended up watching all 5 episodes in one sitting. Dr Brian Cox does a superb job at drawing you in and immersing you with his obvious enthusiasm and love for the subject at hand.

I've been striving for an astonomical series like this. One that doesn't focus on the same old features of the solar system that we learnt at school but gets out and looks at the more interesting, lesser known features. This mainly consists of the amazingly diverse number of moons we have in our solar system. Including the Ice Plumes/Geysers of Enceladus, the ravaged volcainc surafce of the tortured moon Io, Titan with its lakes of methane which works the same way as water on our planet, the moon Europa which has a liquid water ocean below its icy crust which has more chance of harboring life than anywhere else in the solar system, how the amazing ice rings of Saturn were formed, to name a few of the facinating subjects that are present in this series.

If you are interested in astromony or even geology this is a truely amazing series, do not hesitate to buy it. It seems that a book will be coming out eventually to acompany it and if 'The Power Of The Planet' book is anything to go by we will have a great accompaniment which will delve deeper into the into the facinating subject discussed in the series.

One of the best TV series I have ever watched. 10/10
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on 4 April 2010
A simple description of this magnificent series really.
Professor Brian Cox never lets you feel bored, always makes you understand by explaining things how they should be, and with his soothing voice and great persona, Makes you want him to do plenty more programmes like this in the future.
I personally, have loved every episode and this should be shown in every school science lesson as it would make all children pay attention.
My hat goes off to the professor, What a great job you did. Bravo.
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on 13 December 2010
Brian Cox has a terminal case of contagious enthusiasm. He infected me a while ago and this adds to it. The image quality is superb. The content is quite simply fascinating and, to use a much abused word, the overall effect is awesome. I wish I'd worked harder at school now. Thank you Brian.
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on 23 April 2010
I'd not watched Wonders of the Solar System, or actually heard about it really until I saw Brian Cox on Jonathan Ross, in which he was hilarious whilst being a highly entertaining personality. This prompted me to watch the series via iPlayer and I was pleasantly surprised. Being someone that hated physics and the sciences during school with a passion, I wasn't sure if this was for me, but i've found the show extremely entertaining whilst being educational with Professor Brian Cox being one of the most likeable presenters on television. I've now bought the entire series for my blu ray player which is even more incredible with the high definition quality.

One of the main, most noticeable things about the series, is how well the BBC have put the budget to good, effective use. The amount of panoramic and cinematic shots are incredible and they are simply breathtaking with the BD 1080i quality. On top of this, the use of graphics and effects as Cox describes the facts and theories are highly interesting and really keep you captivated. Each one of the five episodes is just under an hour long, but it really doesn't feel like it. There's a good balance of recent, relevant footage, explanations with props by Cox as well as archive footage and photos from space probes etc that doesn't end up boring you, it only leaves you in awe. The way Cox is so likeable and enthusiastic makes the time fly. There are moments which emphasise this and his funny personality such as some of the comments he makes just after carrying out an experiment with regards to air, paper and a glass of water - look out for this and other moments of brilliance from him.

Before I watched one of episodes, I really didn't think I'd like it and i'd be bored. I really don't think I could have been more wrong. Sensational work by the BBC to bring an exciting educational documentary series to our screens. Don't think I could recommend this product anymore, especially on blu ray.
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